WS vs. Wilmington Area School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: W.S.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing: September 2, 2014 September 3, 2014 September 15, 2014 October 27, 2014 October 28, 2014

CLOSED HEARING

ODR Case #15090-1314KE

Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]

Wilmington Area School District 450 Wood Street
New Wilmington, PA 16142

Representative:

Charles Steele, Esquire 428 Forbes Avenue Suite 700
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Patricia Andrews, Esquire 1500 Ardmore Boulevard Suite 506
Pittsburgh, PA 15221

Date Record Closed: December 9, 2014

Date of Decision: December 24, 2014

Hearing Officer: Jake McElligott, Esquire

INTRODUCTION

Student1 is an early elementary school age student residing, at least at times, in the Wilmington Area School District (“District”). By order of a court with competent jurisdiction regarding custody issues between the student’s parents (and set forth more fully below in the Procedural History section below), the student is educated in the District. The student qualifies under the terms of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Improvement Act of 2004 (“IDEIA”)2 and Pennsylvania special education regulations (“Chapter 14”)3 for specially designed instruction and related services as a student with autism.

The student’s mother asserts a number of claims related to the student’s educational programming in the District that, in her view, denied the student a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”). Specifically, the student’s mother claims that the student was denied a FAPE in the 2013-2014 school year and the 2014-2015 school year (through the date the record closed) for various alleged acts and omissions by District employees (or intermediate unit [“IU”] employees providing services to the student by arrangement with the District) in the educational programming for the student.

As a result of this alleged denial of a FAPE, the student’s mother claims that the student is owed compensatory education for a period beginning with the commencement of the 2013-2014 school year and continuing through the date the record in this matter closed. The student’s mother also seeks, as a remedy, an independent educational evaluation (“IEE”) of the student at District expense.

The District counters that, at all times, it met its obligations under the IDEIA and Chapter 14, providing the student with a FAPE at all times. The student’s father was not a party to the dispute but was included in communications related to scheduling/participation and attended most hearing sessions. The student’s father’s position aligns with the District’s; father feels the District has provided appropriate educational services to the student throughout the student’s attendance at the District.

For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the District. The District will not be ordered to provide an IEE. The order will, however, provide instruction to the student’s individualized education plan (“IEP”) team.

ISSUES

Was the student provided with a FAPE
in the 2013-2014 school year,
and the 2014-2015 school year through the date the record closed?

If not,
is the student entitled to compensatory education?

Must the District fund an IEE for the student?

W-S-Wilmington-Area-ODRNo-15090-1314KE

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